Lumien Orton finally wins the Sanlam Women’s Amateur at Ebotse Links.
ne of the best stories this year in South African golf played out at Ebotse Links in Benoni where 29-year-old Lumien Orton (née Lausberg) lifted the SA Women’s Amateur trophy, after losing three previous finals dating back to 2004.
One of the oldest competitors in the field, and married, playing in just her second tournament of the year, Orton showed up at Ebotse as an unknown player among today’s top-ranked teenage amateurs.
A Kimberley resident, but member of Schoeman Park in Bloemfontein, she had lost two SA Amateur finals to Ashleigh Simon (2004 and 2006), before turning pro for two years. After regaining her amateur status, she reached the Amateur final again in 2009 at Royal Cape, and lost to Nobuhle Dlamini on the 37th hole of an epic final. After that defeat she took intermittent breaks from the game.
Orton represented South Africa in the 2012 All Africa champs in Nigeria before taking up road running. She completed both the Comrades and Two Oceans ultra-marathons in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
“All that training, and time spent in the
Ogym, has helped in terms of my hitting a longer ball,” said Orton. “I have always been a straight driver, but my lack of length off the tee in the past had been a weakness and prevented me from becoming a better player.”
During a family holiday at Sun City last December, Orton rediscovered her love for golf, and she bought a second-hand set of clubs, after having hers stolen in a burglary at home. Playing twice a week at Kimberley GC, in April she competed in the SA Women’s Strokeplay at Westlake GC in Cape Town, finishing T-15.
“I arrived at Ebotse knowing only a handful of players and officials, which kind of helped as I flew under the radar the whole week,” said Orton, who finished T-4 in the strokeplay qualifying. She cruised past Bianca Wernich 6/5 in her first match, then beat Demi Flanagan 2/1, Eugenie Clack 3/1 and Symone Henriques 2/1 to reach the final against 20-year-old Cara Gorlei (Milnerton), who was back home from college golf at the University of Arkansas.
Gorlei had thumped top-ranked Kaleigh Telfer (the SA Strokeplay champion) in the quarterfinals, and edged SA Girls champion Lumien Orton. Danielle du Toit (a victor over Ivanna Samu) one up in the semifinals. In the 18-hole final, Gorlei was four up through eight holes, leaving Orton facing another championship match defeat.
“I thought not again,” said Orton. “But I said to myself, just win two holes back and see what happens. In the 2009 final against Dlamini I was 6 down after 18 holes before losing at the 37th.” Two bogeys from Gorlei and two birdies from Orton (14 and 15) saw the match level. Gorlei then made bogey at 16 to go one down, and a birdie four at 18 for Orton clinched a 2up victory and first national title. She is the oldest champion since Wendy Warrington won at East London in 1999 at the age of 39. - BARRY HAVENGA